The following is a guest post by Brian Nichols, Associate Editor at Austin Petersen’s “The Libertarian Republic” and host of The Libertarian Republic’s “Around the Republic” podcast.
The summer of 2017 has been an interesting one to say the least. This is especially true in regards to politics and governance. With President Donald Trump changing the Republican Party to the “Trump Party”, many GOP faithful find themselves at odds with their party and their principles. With such wishy-washy leadership like that found in Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, many Republicans and conservatives have vocally professed their desire for candidates who are based on constitutionality and conservative principles.
Perhaps these Republicans have found a saving grace in the likes of one libertarian activist: Austin Petersen.
Petersen took a national stage in 2016 as the runner-up to Governor Gary Johnson in the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. Upon the dropping out of the remaining conservative candidates in the GOP primaries, many conservative figures – like that in conservative radio
host Glenn Beck – began searching for alternatives, leading many to the third-largest political party in the United States; the Libertarian Party. During the vetting of the top Libertarian candidate, Petersen quickly became the favorite in conservative circles due to his hybrid libertarian/conservative beliefs.
In an interview with the former Fox News producer for Judge Andrew Napolitano, Beck discovered that Petersen, while a libertarian, possessed a great deal of common ground in regards to constitutionality, limited government, and economic responsibility. Beck, who had originally backed Senator Ted Cruz in the primaries, noted some similarities between Cruz and Petersen, especially being that both are pro-life. Petersen, who has faced a great deal of criticism within libertarian circles for being pro-life, was the only pro-life candidate seeking the Libertarian Party nomination, and stated his belief that all lives are created equal, and that the most innocent of our society (the unborn) are entitled the same Constitutional rights we are offered.
Furthermore, Petersen (like Cruz) is a strong, principled defender of the Constitution, has a strong desire to abolish the IRS, is a solid supporter of the Second Amendment, and an active proponent of repealing Obamacare. Where Petersen differentiated himself from Cruz was that he also seeks to abolish the Federal Reserve, an end the constant interventionist foreign policy since World War II, a strong proponent of criminal justice reform, an end the War on Drugs, an end to the unconstitutional practice of civil asset forfeiture, and the ending the NSA’s mass surveillance and bulk-data collection programs that violate the Fourth Amendment.
Petersen made Beck’s heart “skip a beat”, leading Beck to even profess; “Austin says all the right things… He’s my guy now”. Sadly, Beck never was able to see his tacit endorsement through, as Petersen came in second place behind Governor Gary Johnson at the Libertarian Party convention. However, that didn’t stop Petersen’s activism, as he continued to run his online publication, The Libertarian Republic, established a pro-liberty super-PAC, The Stonegait Institute, and continued his frequent podcasts on his show, The Freedom Report.
On July 4, 2017, Petersen took his activism another step forward as he announced his candidacy for the United States Senate in his home state of Missouri against incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. However, Austin turned some heads, as his candidacy would not be taking the same path that his presidential run did in his running as a Libertarian, but rather, as a Republican. And in all honesty, Austin Petersen is the exact type of candidate the GOP desperately needs right now.
In an era of a Trump-GOP where principles have been lost to populism, the GOP badly needs a candidate – like Petersen – who can exemplify what it means to be a true proponent of limited government, economic freedom, and personal responsibility. Petersen brings his principled approach to politics to the table, coupled with his fiery and tenacious demeanor needed to run against an established incumbent with a war-chest in the millions of dollars. Petersen is unapologetic for his beliefs, making him a role model for rising Republican activists who find themselves at odds with (and often shamed by) their liberal counterparts in academia and beyond. His ability to effectively articulate the values of libertarianism and conservatism make him an ideal messenger for the GOP after a brutal election cycle in which principles were often placed second to that of personality.
As the only announced Republican challenger to McCaskill in Missouri, Petersen finds himself in the driver’s seat, with a posse of “Freedom Ninjas” in the thousands behind him every step of the way, making his grassroots and online presence known. It is his charisma, vigor, and principles that make Austin the perfect standard-bearer for Republicans in 2017, both as a candidate and as a future statesman.
The GOP needs more Petersens and fewer McConnells in the United States Senate. Hopefully, Petersen’s rise to political stardom will be just the push young activists need to follow suit as we progress further into the 21st Century.